Playground Rendez-Vous

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
Pu Erh Tea Leaves
Citrus, Cookie, Medicinal, Mint, Spices, Wood
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Edit tea info Last updated by bois083
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 oz / 100 ml

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2 Tasting Notes View all

  • “My initial review (further below) is pretty scathing, and I will be updating my notes soon after letting a few months pass and will try the tea again. I have since tried more Mei Leaf teas that I...” Read full tasting note
  • “This is one crazy tea. A lighter fermentation Bulang ripe fermented using black tea kombucha instead of spring water. I couldn’t resist trying it out and even felt lucky enough to go straight for a...” Read full tasting note

From Mei Leaf

Ripe tea made from Gushu (ancient tree) PuErh? That doesn’t come around every day. What about one that is fermented in bamboo barrels? And how about one that is fermented in Black tea Kombucha!? Yes this is one crazy delicious tea experimentation.

It all started with B.A.D. (Bizarrely Aged Dianhong) which we found in 2020. A black tea from Yunnan which had a fermented taste. We began to wonder if we could experiment with the ripening/fermentation process to create some similarly wonderful brews.

So we sent a sample of B.A.D. to our friend in Yunnan and began our discussions – Playground Rendez-Vous is the result of this year-long collaboration.

Our friend told us that he was holding on to some small-batch Gushu (estimated 200-year-old trees) PuErh from Bulang mountains and was going to ripen it in an unusual way. Instead of ripening the tea on the fermentation room floor he wanted to ripen in large, raised bamboo barrels/baskets. We had seen this method before, used for very small batch Hei Cha and usually for meticulous lighter ferments.

But then he said something that blew our minds. Instead of just using Spring Water to ferment the tea he was going to use Black Tea Kombucha! We immediately signed up to buy into his experiments!

The result was tasted early this year and we were blown away by the depth and sweetness of the tea – I was smiling for days afterwards.

Clean, smooth, rich, sweet, spicy and refreshing – this tea has it ALL. It has little to no ‘Wo Dui’ wet storage aroma. Presumably, this is because of the micro-batch nature of the ferment raised from the floor but also due to the lighter levels of fermentation. A remarkable Shu which is on the one hand unique and complex yet super sweet and easy drinking.

The wrapper design had to take on a different style since this was such a wild experiment combining two tea types. A meeting of a PuErh (we always represent as an animal) with a wild Black tea (femme fatale) in a clandestine yet playful setting – Playground Rendez-Vous was born and Celine did a fabulous job of capturing the scene in a graphic novel style. Black tea used to make a Hei Cha, it had to be monochrome cover – surreal and fun.

I truly hope that you love Playground Rendez-Vous as much as I do. Tea of the Year 2021? Most probably.

About Mei Leaf View company

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2 Tasting Notes

21 tasting notes

My initial review (further below) is pretty scathing, and I will be updating my notes soon after letting a few months pass and will try the tea again. I have since tried more Mei Leaf teas that I really enjoy, and I want to give Rendez-Vous another chance. The problem is that the higher a tea’s price point and hype, the greater the potential disappointment. To be continued….
Initial Review:
I bought this tea based on Don’s selection of it as one of his Teas of the Year. I wish I could get a refund. I do not see this as a pinnacle tea at all. I am truly surprised and feel disappointed, as I put my faith in Mei Leaf. In my opinion, this tea is way below average. For me, it is weak in mouth feel, taste, smell, and body sensation. I tried to convince myself the tea has merits. I let the cake rest for over a month. I waited two weeks between first tastings. But each time the tea just did not deliver. I would give this away. With the heavy marketing about Mei Leaf teas being pinnacle, I cannot understand how this tea even remotely upholds that standard. And it was not inexpensive. I feel duped.

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123 tasting notes

This is one crazy tea. A lighter fermentation Bulang ripe fermented using black tea kombucha instead of spring water. I couldn’t resist trying it out and even felt lucky enough to go straight for a blind cake. When it finally arrived, I could just bring it to my nose, smell it through the wrapper and tell it’s not your typical ripe. It has none of that typical shu barnyard/compost smell that essentially all ripes have when dry. Instead I get this scent of gingerbread dough, perhaps some plums as well. Needless to say I was hyped to give this one a try.

After a mere couple days of rest, I could wait no longer. In went 8+ grams in my 100ml Jianshui clay teapot and after a brief rinse the stage was set. The smell of the wet leaves is very similar to the dry leaf. Slightly more sour, obviously richer and deeper, with an added note I can’t quite put my finger on but which makes me think of something similar to soy sauce.

Then I get to that always-so-magical first sip, and, yes, this tea tastes very much like it smells. Gingerbread dough, mix of spices, woody notes, sourdough, slight medicinal character and a surprisingly strong immediate cooling sensation in the mouth. I’m not sure if I’d call the coolness minty, menthol or something along those lines, but it wasn’t the typical camphor I most often get in ripes. This stuff is quite strong for a shu and potent to boot. After just a few small cups I was already feeling the tea in my body and soon after my head began to feel tingly and I started to feel intoxicated.

Midway through the session some bitterness started to creep in briefly, showcasing how some of the Bulang character has been preserved thanks to the lighter fermentation. Overall the tea wasn’t too dynamic though. The mouthfeel is good though, livelier than most ripes, and the tea even has a nice lubricating feeling in the throat, speaking to the quality of the material. I did push the tea all the way to the long multi-minute brews and while the small 100ml vessel size meant heat wasn’t maintained that well, the results were still decent enough. While light, the tea revealed a slightly citrusy character, accompanied by slight fizziness.

I’ve found Mei Leaf teas to be really hit or miss for me, but when they hit, they really hit it out of the park and I’m happy to say that is the case here. Not only is Playground Rendez-Vous really unique, but it is an actually good tea to boot. I would still classify it as a ripe, but it is unlike any other ripe I’ve ever tasted. I’m always somewhat skeptical of claims of the material being gushu when it comes to ripes, and even in cases where I can believe them, the supposed higher quality doesn’t always translate to the cup in an easily perceptible way, not in the same way as with raw pu’er. Here though, while I’d already disregarded all gushu claims, I can actually buy this coming from older trees. While this is no sheng pu’er, some of the qualities I look for in a high-quality raw have managed to make their way into the final shu in a way that seldom seems to happen even in the most high-end ripes I’ve tried.

If you’re a fan of ripes, you’ll most likely enjoy this tea. It is at the very least worth a sample. At £69/200g (~$0.46/g) it is far from a cheap tea, but at least for me the price is (nearly) justified. Most teas past $0.40/g simply can’t deliver the same quality-to-price ratio as teas below that, and when it comes to ripes that often ends up being even more challenging to achieve. Here you are paying some for the uniqueness, but also for the quality, and the end result ends up living up to the expectations better than most shus with a hefty price tag.

The tea has absolutely zero of the typical ripe funk and I found it extremely clean tasting at the time of writing, a mere year after being fermented. If you absolutely hate ripes, this is unlikely to change your mind, but if you’re kind of on the fence and feel like you just haven’t found any ripes you like (that was me for many years), this one might be worth a shot. I drank this together with my mom who can’t stand ripes and her descriptors for it were: bitter, medicinal and cat piss. She really hated this one. Fortunately she loves sheng.

I will need to spend more sessions with Playground Rendez-Vous, but so far I really enjoy it and it’s certainly among my favorite ripes. I am seriously considering buying a second cake.

Flavors: Citrus, Cookie, Medicinal, Mint, Spices, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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